Archive | August 21, 2013

Had to be Done

This is [personal profile] rix_scaedu‘s commissioned continuation to What was Right, which was a continuation of Bowen’s Summer, Continued, which was a continuation of July Linkback Story. It takes place between Years 5 & 6 of the Addergoole School

…Bowen knocked anyway. Some things, you really didn’t have any choice about.

Knocked, and then, when she opened the door, knelt on one knee. “Kailani cy’Regine, I owe you a debt of honor.” The words were awkward, but they were right. “I owe you deeply, for the good you did me. I humbly request that you tell me what I can do to repay this.”

He really didn’t expect her to start crying.

Crying girls were not something Bowen had a lot of experience with. From the looks of the rest of his cy’ree, neither did they.

He bowed again, a little lower, and then looked up at her. “What…?”

“Kai, honey, what’s wrong?” Conrad appeared behind Kailani in the doorway of their cottage. “…Oh.” His cold expression took in all four of the cy’Fridmar on the porch. “It’s summer time, guys, don’t you have a hobby?”

“No, no, it’s okay.” Kailani patted Conrad’s arm a few times. Bowen noticed the flummoxed look on Conrad’s face before he noticed that the guy was still wearing a collar. “They’re not doing anything wrong.”

“Kai. You’re crying. You don’t cry.”

“He said… he said…”

“I said thank you.” Crying girl. Okay. Bowen could deal with this, really. “Well, I said that I owed her, but ‘thank you’ was part of that.”

“Took you long enough.” Conrad’s glare was not being at all mitigated.

“Conrad.” Kai patted his arm again. “It’s okay.”

“You weren’t expecting anything, were you?” Phelen had slurked up behind Bowen while he watched this so-awkward interchange.

Kai shook her head. “No. Everyone…” She glanced at Conrad and fell silent.

Phelen filled in the blanks. “Addergoole is full of takers. You broke the script, and that made many people angry.”

Kailani nodded. Conrad’s frown slowly faded. “She played with the big dogs.”

“We know.” Rozen’s rumble of a voice was almost a laugh. “We were there.”

Bowen watched Kailani look over his head at Rozen and Baram. “I remember.” There was something in her voice, and then it was gone when she looked at Bowen. “You look… you look good.” She somehow made that a question.

Conrad looked back at Bowen, sharply now. “You do. Happy, and you’ve got your color back.”

Bowen shrugged. “Lots of time outside. Nice to see the sun.” He didn’t realize he was smiling until he felt the way “sun” tasted on his lips.

Kailani smiled, too. “It is. It’s hard to go back inside at the end of the day.” She tilted her face upwards for a moment, eyes closed.

When the moment had stretched from reasonable to a little-too-long, Conrad coughed. Kai looked back at Bowen. “What brings you to Addergoole in the middle of the summer, then?”

“Uh.” He glanced back at his cy’ree. “Rozen brought me.”

“Oh. Oh?”

“I brought him to say thank you. Then we’re going to take a road trip.” Rozen was speaking a little more slowly, Bowen noticed, and enunciating carefully. Kai wasn’t stupid – she was supposed to be the smartest person in their Cohort.

“Oh.” Right now, she looked like she needed smaller words. “Well, have fun.”

Phelen laughed. “Yeah.” Yeah? “Yes, Kailani, it was that big of a deal. You faced down Agatha to get Bowen out of a bad situation.”

“He repaid the favor.”

“He repaid the favor, but not the bravery.” Phelen bowed. “Now he’s repaying it all.”

“That.” Bowen nodded. “You did a bigger thing than I did.”

Kailani made an expression that was probably a smile. “Somebody had to.”

“And you did it.”

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The Hardest Part… A story for the Giraffe Call

For ellenmillion‘s prompt.

“The hardest part of…”

The hardest part of anything was never what anyone said it was, because, Yaminah knew, the hardest part was whatever you were doing at the moment. One foot in front of the other; the marathon is no harder than a single step, but that single step can be the hardest thing you’ve done in your life.

Right now, the step over the threshold was her “hardest part.” She’d shucked pieces and parts of her job during the train ride, the bus ride, the subway ride, and the walk, but stepping over the threshold required her to remember that she was, indeed, Yaminah.

Right now, that was harder than it sounded. She ran her fingers over the beads in her pocket – she kept them in this jacket, in the locker at the bus station, so that she always had them before she got home. Not a rosary, but they served a similar cause.

This bead, carved like an hourglass, told her about the time she’d beat the world speed record in distance running and told no-one except her trainer. Yaminah could do that. Sophia couldn’t.

This bead, textured all over like sandpaper, told her of the time she’d scaled a limestone wall – not for a test, not for training, but because she could. Yaminah could do that. Sophia couldn’t.

Bead after bead, memory after memory, she pulled herself back. Yaminah was the girl who trained because it was fun. She was the girl who scaled mountains. She was the woman who made her first kill and spent the night retching, then went out and made her next kill.

The nights were Yaminah. The kills… those were Sophia, or Gloria, or Hannah. She had never killed aside from a mission. She had never climbed a mountain on a mission.

She ran her finger over the last bead, the one shaped like a cat, and let herself in to her apartment. The hardest part… Right now, the hardest part was remembering if she’d dumped the milk before she went on her mission.

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